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The Joy of Being a Child - Psalm 139, Mark 10

The first service plan in a series entitled "Chapters of Life." This service focuses on the chapter of childhood. The intent is to speak to children, with children, and to those of other ages about children.

Worship Service
Also in this Series

The Chapters of Life

This series of worship services explores how children and adults can participate together with integrity to give honor to God while paying credit to the significance of each age level.

Theme of the Service

This service, both in form and in content, is shaped by Psalm 46. We acknowledge that much of what we observe around us is marked by violence, tragedy, and uncertainty. Yet, in the midst of such disorderliness the child of God finds great rest and peace in God's protection. In our worship today we aim to draw on God's rest and peace for our soul's nurture.

To begin this series of services, we focus on the chapter of childhood. The intent is to speak to children, with children, and to those of other ages about children.

There are special joys associated with being a child and with having many children among us. We must celebrate those joys. But we must also understand that God places great responsibility on the worshiping community that has children within it. And we must accept those responsibilities with commitment.

We come to worship as children of the Lord-both young and old.


Prelude: "Joyful, Joyful, We Adore Thee," Callahan or Krapf [organ], Carter [piano], Sherman [handbells]
"I Will Enter His Gates," Hayes [piano]

Reading of Psalm 122 (from Psalms for Teens)

*Song: "I Will Enter His Gates" SNC 13, SFL 9

*Our Declaration of Trust and God's Greeting
Congregation of Jesus Christ, in whom are you trusting?
Our help is in the name of the Lord who made heaven and earth.
Grace, mercy, and peace to you in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.

*Song: "We Will Glorify" RN 33, SNC 21, SFL 18, TWC 118


The Call to Confession
Sung: "Psalm 139: O Lord, My God" RN 118, SNC 243

God's Children Confess Their Sins (see Liturgy Notes)
Dear God,
You are a great and awesome God.
Today we come to you in a prayer of confession.
We are sorry for the many things that we have done that are wrong in your eyes.
We are also sorry for all the things we should have done but we didn't do.
We are asking now for forgiveness for those things
and other things that we have done wrong and don't even know about.
Please forgive us.
In your name alone we pray, Amen.

The Assurance of God's Pardon: 1 John 2:1-2

Our Song of Thanks: "I Sing a Song to Jesus Christ" SFL 31

God's Instructions for Grateful Living: Matthew 22:37-40


*Series Song: "God, Your Constant Care and Love" PsH 592
or "I Was There to Hear Your Borning Cry" WOV 770

Reading of Psalm 139:13-18
The Word of the Lord.
Thanks be to God!

Anthem: "We Are Children of Our God," Jothen

Reading of Mark 10:13-16
The Word of the Lord.
Thanks be to God!

Sermon: "The Joy of Being a Child" (The Early Years)
(The Chapters of Life - #1)


Reading of Psalm 19 (from Psalms for Teens)

Song: "Lord Most High" SNC 47
or "Humble Praises, Holy Jesus" PsH 484

Our Prayer of Intercession for Children

The Offertory: "Jesus Loves Me," Carter [piano]
Or "Borning Cry," Larson [handbells]

*Song: "Jesus Loves Me" PH 304, PsH 571, SFL 61, TH 189, TWC 470, UMH 191


*The Benediction with Congregational Amen!

*Song: "We Are the Church" (st. 1-4) SFL 236, UMH 558

Postlude: "Trumpet Tune," Telemann [organ]
or "Borning Cry," Albrecht [piano]

* you are invited to stand

Sermon Notes:

When a new series of services and sermons begins, it is wise to clearly explain the intent and theme of the series, to set the scope of the entire series briefly before the hearers, and to explain who is being addressed. This message is addressed to children so they will see their early years as a special time of their life, to parents who get so busy with responsibilities they forget the joy of having children, and to older adults whose nest is empty and need to recall the joy of having children around them.

This message merges the ideas of Psalm 139 and Mark 10 to give a balanced and thoughtful picture of childhood. These two passages help us identify five joys of being a child.

  1. The joy of being created-a masterpiece from the hand of the Creator! (Psalm 139:13-14)
  2. The joy of growing-physically, mentally, and spiritually. Jesus did this too (see Luke 2:52).
  3. The joy of discovery-about ourselves, our world, and God. (Psalm 139:17-18)
  4. The joy of being loved-by others and by Jesus, who said the "kingdom of God belongs to such as these." (Mark 10:14)
  5. The joy of teaching adults-though it may be a surprise to us, Jesus says that adults can learn a lot from children. (Mark 10:15)

The congregation with children has a large responsibility, just as parents with children have large responsibilities. This message can spell out several of them.

  1. The church welcomes children. In Matthew 18:5 Jesus talks about welcoming children in his name. In Mark 10:14 Jesus was indignant with the disciples because they didn't.
  2. The church blesses children. In Mark 10:16 we are specifically told that Jesus touched and blessed the children. The church has multiple ways to bless children.
  3. The church protects children. The similar passage in Matthew 18:6 warns about the seriousness of the offense of any who will cause little ones to stumble.

Music Notes:

Glossary of Hymnal Abbreviations:
PH The Presbyterian Hymnal (Presbyterian Church USA; Westminster/John Knox Press)
PsH The Psalter Hymnal (Christian Reformed Church; Faith Alive Christian Resources)
RL Rejoice in the Lord (Reformed Church in America; W.B. Eerdmans Publishing Company)
RN Renew! (Hope Publishing Company)
SFL Songs for LiFE (children's songbook; Faith Alive Christian Resources)
SNC Sing! A New Creation (Calvin Institute of Christian Worship, Christian Reformed Church,
Reformed Church in America; Faith Alive Christian Resources)
TH Trinity Hymnal (Orthodox Presbyterian Church, Presbyterian Church in America; Great
Commission Publications)
TWC The Worshiping Church (Hope Publishing Company)
UMH The United Methodist Hymnal (United Methodist Publishing House)
WOV With One Voice (Augsburg Fortress)

  1. The prelude suggestions convey a spirit of joy and anticipation which prepares the worshiper for the opening call and hymn. "Joyful, Joyful, We Adore Thee" can be found in:
    • "Partita on 'Hymn to Joy'" by Charles Callahan for organ, published by Morningstar MSM-10-703 [1993] (M).
    • "Sing and Rejoice," vol. 2, an organ collection by Gerhard Krapf, published by SMP KK235 [1982] (E-M). This collection is adaptable for piano use.
    • "Easy Hymns for Four Hands," a piano duet collection by John Carter published by Hope 8146 [2002] (E-M). Both this piece and the offertory suggestion could be played by two children, or an adult and a child.
    • "Joyful, Joyful, We Adore Thee" by Arnold Sherman for 2-3 octaves bells, published by Agape 1652 [1993] (E-M). This piece could be played by a youth ensemble.
    • "I Will Enter His Gates," arranged by Mark Hayes, can be found in "Lord Be Glorified," published by Word 301 0047 312 [1990] (M).
  2. Take note that "I Sing a Song to Jesus Christ" (SFL 31) was written by a child.
  3. "I Was There to Hear Your Borning Cry" is a contemporary folk-like hymn that traces our journey through all of life's chapters.
  4. "We Are Children of Our God" is a unison/two-part anthem by Michael Jothen published by Choristers Guild CGA731 [1996] (E-M). It includes a reprintable refrain for congregational use
  5. The offertory suggestion is a duet on "Jesus Loves Me" that is also in the collection "Easy Hymns for Four Hands" by John Carter. See above for publisher information. The alternative suggestion, "Borning Cry" by Katherine Jordahl Larson, is written for 3-4 octaves handbell choir and published by Augsburg 11-10517 [1994] (M). This piece is suited more to a choir with established playing experiences.
  6. The postlude suggestions can be found in these resources:
    • "Suite for Organ" by Georg Phillip Telemann published by Concordia 97-4763 [1966] (E-M).
    • The transcription on "I Was There to Hear Your Borning Cry" [WATERLIFE] by Mark Albrecht can be found in "Timeless Hymns of Faith" published by Augsburg 11-10863 [1998] (E-M).

Liturgy Notes:

  1. Because the focus is on children in this service, we encourage the inclusion of children in as many roles as possible-readers, prayers, ministry of music, etc. Remember, however, that this inclusion of children means we should be willing to provide them with encouragement and coaching so that their leadership will be meaningful, reading and speaking will be clear, and they will feel more confident about it. Rehearsals, especially with a microphone, are usually a very good thing for children.
  2. The two supplementary Scripture readings in this service are taken from Psalms for Teens (Eldon Weisheit, St. Louis, MO: Concordia Publishing House, 2002) and provide a fresh reading of these two psalms, especially when read by a child. If you do not have this volume available, consider using another contemporary translation that will be child-friendly. You may also consider having a church school or worship center class write a paraphrase of these readings. They then could be read by the children in the service.
  3. The prayer of confession for this service was written by Lynnae Keeley, a middle school student from Holland, Michigan. Lynnae participated in leading worship and wrote this prayer for a worship service at the 2004 Conference on Liturgy and Music in Denver, Colorado, in July.
  4. The intercessory prayer should have a clear focus on children, their joys, and their needs. Consider meeting with a church school or worship center class to learn of their concerns before writing this prayer, or engage a group of children to write it, and/or include several children to lead in the prayer.